“Faith; Rejoicing in Grace”, from Martin Lloyd Jones (Overcome, Trusting God, True Courage)

Martin Lloyd-Jones on Faith, Rejoicing in Grace

In the Christian life, we must “desire nothing but His glory!” nothing but to “please Him!”  The truth is, there is nothing so gracious as God’s method of accountancy.

Be prepared for surprises in this Kingdom.

The truth is, you never know what is going to happen!  The last shall be first!  What a complete reversal of our materialistic outlook – everything in God’s kingdom is upside down!

When Jesus separates the “sheep” from the “goats” on judgment day   (Mt 25:31-40), He will say to us His sheep, “To the extent that you served one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you served Me – come inherit the Kingdom prepared for you!”  We will be totally surprised by many of our acts of kindness and service. 

This life is all of grace!  “By the grace of God we are what we are!”

The secret of a happy Christian life is not only to realize that it is all of grace, but to “rejoice in that fact!” 

Jesus asked His disciples, “Where is your faith?”  The whole issue here is the problem and question of the nature of faith.  Many believers are often troubled because they have never clearly understood the nature of faith.

Remember all believers have been given the “gift of faith,” that enables us to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation, but that does not mean that they fully understand the nature of faith.

Though faith is given as a “gift,” from there on we have to do certain things about it – there is a vital difference between the gift of faith and the walk of faith or the life of faith. 

“We walk by faith, not by sight!”

God starts us off in this Christian life and then we have to walk in it – “we walk by faith, not by sight” (2 Cor 5:7).  When Jesus rebuked the disciples during the storm that raged on the sea of Galilee, He did not rebuke them because of their alarm or their terror, but for their “lack of faith.”  Jesus marveled at their “unbelief.”  The disciples had done everything they could in the storm, but it did not seem to be of any avail.

Here is a critical point: Jesus rebuked them for being in that state of agitation and terror while He was with them in the boat!   A Christian should never, like the worldly person, be depressed, agitated, alarmed, frantic, not knowing what to do. 

Paul said, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I’m in” (Phil 4:11). That is what the Christian is meant to be like.  The Christian is never meant to be carried away by his feelings, and “lack self-control” – whatever his circumstances.  That is why the disciples were so alarmed, agitated, miserable and unhappy.  

The disciple’s condition also implied a “lack of trust and confidence in God”

 – Jesus said in effect: “Do you feel like this in spite of the fact that I am with you?  Do you not trust Me?”  Remember the words of the disciples:  “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” (Mk 4:38). 

Such a response shows a lack of faith in Christ’s concern and care for us – as such, we become agitated and disturbed.  It is the same response as the unbeliever.

The issue is this: We must never allow ourselves to be agitated and disturbed whatever the circumstances, because to do so implies a “lack of faith and confidence in Christ” – at this point we simply do not believe God. 

A Trial by Faith

One might call this kind of situation “the trial of faith.”  Take the eleventh chapter of Hebrews – every one of those men was “tried.”  They had been given the gift of faith and great promises, and then their faith was tried.  Peter says the same thing: “Though you are distressed by various trials, the reason for the trials is that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, though it be tested with fire, might be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet 1:6-7). 

That is the theme of all Scripture. 

Storms and trials are a vital part of life for the believer – they are allowed by God for a reason. . . our faith is being tried – proven – tested – purified.  James says, “Consider it all joy when you encounter various trials” (Jam 1:2).  Paul writes, “Unto you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Phil 1:29).  Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation; but take courage, I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33).

Likewise Paul also says, “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).  When everything seems to be against us; when the Lord Himself appears to be utterly unconcerned; when we are fearful and desperate; when we may even be in danger of our lives – that is where the real trial of faith comes in. 

In just such circumstances, follow the words of the Christian poet –

                   When all things seem against us          
                        To drive us to despair,                           
                     We know one gate is open                              
                   One ear will hear our prayer.

What is the nature of “your faith”?

Observe our Lord’s response when dealing with His disciples in the midst of the storm – He knows perfectly well that “they have faith.”  The question He asks them is this: “You have faith – but where is it at the moment?” 

That gives us the “key” to understanding the nature of faith.  First, faith is not merely a matter of “feeling” – it can’t be, because our feelings change from one minute to the next; as such, our faith would be there one minute, and gone the next.  Faith involves the “mind,” the understanding – it is a “response to truth” (truth implies intelligibilia).  Faith is not something that acts automatically or magically.  Faith has to be exercised.  Faith does not come into operation by itself, you have to put it into operation.

So, how does one put faith into operation?  The first thing you must do when you find yourself in a difficult position is to refuse to allow yourself to be controlled by the situation – that was the disciple’s problem; they allowed the situation to control them.  Faith is a refusal to panic.

That is the very nature of faith – it is a refusal to panic, come what may.  Faith has been described thus: “Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet” – faith does not allow unbelief to surface.  Genuine faith does not entertain the temptation – it immediately rejects the temptation – by considering temptation, you allow it to “take root” in your heart. 

“Faith is perpetual unbelief kept quiet”

Believers do not have the capacity to fully consider temptation and then turn away from it, because it “engages the flesh!”  Satan isn’t stupid!  He knows if you will just “listen” to him and consider what he has to say – he’s got you!!!

Faith immediately responds to difficult situations with these words: “I am not going to entertain these thoughts!  And I am not going to be controlled by these circumstances!” Right out of the shoot, you take charge of yourself!  and pull yourself up!  and control yourself!  You do not let your thoughts wander into Satan’s territory!  You assert yourself!  Now is the time to control your thinking!  You need to remind yourself immediately of what you believe and what you know! 

Faith holds on to reason, to the foundations Truth – God’s Word.

That is faith – it holds on to truth and reasons from what it knows to be fact.  That is the way faith reasons.  The foundation stone of faith is Truth – God’s Word – Scripture.  Faith reasons, “All right, I see the waves and the billows. . . BUT (and then you remind yourself of ultimate reality – “truth” – God is God, and He is in charge).

To reiterate, one of the most critical steps you can take when faced with a difficult situation, is to “immediately reject the temptation and refuse to consider it,” and then “affirm what you know to be the truth,” including the acknowledgment of your own weakness.  Faith agrees with everything God says about reality – and that includes the need for you to be utterly dependent upon Him. 

Here is an example of what to say –

God, all things seem to be against me to “drive me to despair.”
I don’t understand what is happening, but this I know – I know
that You so loved me that You sent Your only begotten Son into
this world for me.  You did that for me while I was an enemy,
a rebellious alien.  I know that Jesus loves me and gave Himself
for me.  I know that at the cost of His life’s blood I have salvation
and that I am now Your child and an heir to everlasting joy and peace. I know that.

Faith logically argues “the exceedingly great and precious promises”.

Faith argues like that – it amounts to “logically thinking through what we know to be true.”  Faith reminds itself of what the Scripture calls “the exceeding great and precious promises.”  Faith says, “I cannot believe that He who has brought me so far is going to let me down at this point.  It is impossible, because it would be inconsistent with the character of God.

So faith, having refused to be controlled by circumstances, reminds itself of what it believes and what it knows to be true.  Jesus in effect said to His disciples, “Where is your faith?  You have it!  Why don’t you apply it?”  Bring all you know to be true of your relationship to God to bear upon it – then you will know full well that He will never allow anything to happen to you that is harmful. 

Remember the words of Paul: “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.”  Not a hair of your head shall be harmed.  He loves you with an everlasting love. 

You may not have a full understanding of your predicament, but this you know for certain – “God is not unconcerned.”  God permits everything that happens to you because it is ultimately for your good.  That is the way faith works – but you have to exercise it.  You refuse to be moved.  You stand on your faith. 

“This is the victory that overcomes the world – your faith!” (1 Jn 5:4).

Martin Lloyd-Jones

David Martyn Lloyd-Jones (20 December 1899 – 1 March 1981) was a Welsh Protestant minister, preacher and medical doctor who was influential in the Reformed wing of the British evangelical movement in the 20th century. For almost 30 years, he was the minister of Westminster Chapel in London.

source: Spiritual Depression by Martin Lloyd-Jones (Chapter One)

“Heart of Peace”, a poem from L.Willows (God’s Peace, Loving God, Holy Joy)

Oh Soul, you surge, you arch in above
with a gentle passion’s reach to Love.

For Heavens’ quest is nearer than
the length of love in the Heart of Man.

Find me turning, lead me Out
The Glory called my name – Devout.

I hear the thunder of Joys’ rain,
Clouds part with wonder – Light to gain.

Oh Soul, do let the every part,
come forward, bow, and then depart.

Naked stillness forms the glove
of Godly Peace, surrendered to Love.

©2015 Linda Willows

John 14:27 —“Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”

Deuteronomy 5:6 —“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.”

“The Glory of God”, J.I. Packer expounds on Jonathan Edwards treatise (The End for which God Created the World)

The Glory of God

J.I.Packer expounds on Jonathan Edwards’ treatise on The Glory of God

Edwards inherited a dispute among the learned: Was God’s goal in creation his own glory, as Reformed theology maintained, or man’s happiness, as Arminians and Deists thought? In his Dissertation on the End for Which God Created the World, posthumously published, Edwards resolved this question with startling brilliance. As his son, Jonathan Edwards, Jr., put it:

It was said that, as God is a benevolent being . . . he could not but form creatures for the purpose of making them happy. Many passages of Scripture were quoted in support of this opinion. On the other hand, numerous and very explicit declarations of Scripture were produced to prove that God made all things for his own glory. Mr. Edwards was the first, who clearly showed, that both these were the ultimate end of the creation . . . and that they are really one and the same thing. (Sereno E. Dwight, “Memoirs,” in Works, 1:cxcii)

Edwards clinched his case on this by surveying the biblical use of the word “glory” (Hebrew, kabod; Greek, LXX and NT, doxa). Having stated correctly that etymologically kabod implies “weight, greatness, abundance” and in use often conveys the thought of “God in fullness,” Edwards traces the term thus:

Sometimes it is used to signify what is internal, inherent, or in the possession of a person [i.e., glory that belongs to someone]: and sometimes for emanation, exhibition, or communication of this internal glory [i.e., glory that appears to someone]: and sometimes for the knowledge, or sense of these [communications], in those to whom the exhibition or communication is made [i.e., glory that is seen, or discerned, by someone]; or an expression of this knowledge, sense, or effect [i.e., glory that is given to someone, by praise and thanks in joy and love]. (Edwards, “The End for Which God Created the World,” in Works, 1:116)

And the conclusion he offers — on the basis of both biblical texts that speak of glory and of glorifying in these four distinct though connected ways and also analytical argument surrounding this exegesis — is that God’s internal and intrinsic glory consists of his knowledge (omniscience with wisdom) plus his holiness (spontaneous virtuous love, linked with hatred of sin) plus his joy (supreme endless happiness);

and that his glory (wise, holy, happy love) flows out from him, like water from a fountain, in loving spontaneity (grace), first in creation and then in redemption, both of which are so set forth to us so as to prompt praise; and that in our responsive, Spirit-led glorifying of God, God glorifies and satisfies himself, achieving that which was his purpose from the start.

The chief end of man, as the famous first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism memorably puts it, is to glorify God and enjoy him forever. God so made us that in praising, thanking, loving, and serving him, we find our own supreme happiness and enjoyment of God in a way that otherwise we would not and could not do. We reach our highest enjoyment of God in and by glorifying him, and we glorify him supremely in and by enjoying him. In fact, we enjoy him most when we glorify him most, and vice versa. And God’s single-yet-complex end, now in redemption as it was in creation, is his own happiness and joy in and through ours.

His great goal here and now is to glorify himself through glorifying, and being glorified by, rational human beings who out of their fallenness come to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Thus the emanation (outflow) of divine glory in the form of creative and redemptive action results in a remanation (returning flow) of glory to God in the form of celebratory devotion. And so God’s goal for himself (Father, Son, and Spirit, the “they” who are “he” within the Triune unity), the goal that includes his goal for all Christian humankind, is achieved by means of a singly unitary process, which itself is ongoing and unending.

“We reach our highest enjoyment of God in and by glorifying him, and we glorify him supremely in and by enjoying him.”

The unimaginable endlessness of this reciprocal sequencing that is in truth the end for which God created the world can only be indicated formulaically and analogically (to use a couple of non-Edwardsean terms). This is done for us in a normative way in Revelation 21, and C.S. Lewis most tellingly did it at the close of his final Narnia story, The Last Battle, where the children have been brought through a rail crash into the real Narnia that is to be their home forever. The key sentences are these:

Then Aslan [the Christ-like lion] turned to them and said:

“You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be . . . all of you are (as you used to call it in the Shadowlands) dead. The term is over; the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

. . . We can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before. (Lewis, The Last Battle[Penguin, 1964], 165)

This picks up exactly, in mythical-parabolic terms, the point that Edwards, in his more prosaic way, was concerned to make. Amy Plantinga Pauw capsules it as follows:

Because “heaven is a progressive state,” the heavenly joy of the saints, and even of the triune God, will forever continue to increase. . . . Saints can look forward to an unending expansion of their knowledge and love of God, as their capacities are stretched by what they receive . . . there is no intrinsic limit to their joy in heaven. . . .

As the saints continue to increase in knowledge and love of God, God receives more and more glory. This heavenly reciprocity will never cease, because the glory God deserves is infinite, and the capacity of the saints to perceive God’s glory and praise him for it is ever increasing. (Pauw, “The Supreme Harmony of All”: The Trinitarian Theology of Jonathan Edwards[Eerdmans, 2002], 180-181)

Here, finally, is how Edwards himself, in his rather more severe and abstract manner, sums the matter up. (“The creature” in what follows is the believer.)

And though the emanation of God’s fulness, intended in the creation, is to the creature as its object; and though the creature is the subject of the fulness communicated, which is the creature’s good; yet it does not necessarily follow that, even in doing so, God did not make himself his end. It comes to the same thing.

God’s respect to the creature’s good, and his respect to himself, is not a divided respect; but both are united in one, as the happiness of the creature aimed at is happiness in union with himself. . . .

The more happiness the greater union. . . . And as the happiness will be increasing to eternity, the union will become more and more strict [i.e., closely bound] and perfect; nearer and more like to that between God the Father and the Son; who are so united, that their interest is perfectly one. . . .

Let the most perfect union with God be represented by something at an infinite height above us; and the eternally increasing union of the saints with God, by something that is ascending constantly towards that infinite height . . . and that is to continue thus to move to all eternity. (Edwards, “The End for Which God Created the World,” 120)

The two-way street of this unceasing process, says Edwards, embodies and expresses the true end for which God created the world: namely, the endless advancement of his glory, in union with us, through the endless advancement of ours, in union with him.

Those who have in any measure tasted the refreshment and joy of heart that flow from faith in, friendship with, and worship of the holy Three (or shall I say the holy One, or One-in-Three) will latch on to Edwards’s thinking here as a complete answer to any who fancy that the Christian heaven would be static and dull, and will themselves look forward to the awaiting glory with ever-growing eagerness.

Resource: J.I. Packer

from the book:

“A God-Entranced Vision of All Things”

The Legacy of Jonathan Edwards by John Piper and Justin Tayor